A couple of months ago I sat down with my rattie boys to discuss their New Year’s Ratsolutions, as I like to call them. The conversation often veered off topic, but I enjoyed learning how my two separate groups of boys approached ratsolutions.
I’ve observed that rats have very distinct stages they go through during their short two to three years of life. What your rats are like when you first bring them home inevitably evolves over time due to physical and/or personality changes that are a part of aging. I can’t help but notice right now how much my younger rats remind me of what my older rats used to be like, and how the older ones have been settling into their last stage of life. How might these varying stages affect my rats’ perspective on other topics?
I suggested we do another sit down. This time I wanted to give the older gents a chance to share any life lessons they might have for the “teenagers.” For those of you who did not read the last interview, let me reintroduce my rats.
Meet My Rats
I have two groups of “brothers” on the opposite spectrum of age. I call them The Seniors and The Young Boys.
The Young Boys are about 8 months old. Moffett and Brinley are twin, Black Berkshire, Blaze Dumbos (try to say that five times fast!), and Kelton is a Himalayan Dumbo. All three rats were surrendered to Any Rat Rescue with a large group of babies. It was unclear whether the Himalayans and Berkshires were from the same set of parents. They could be full- or half-brothers, or just brothers from another mother.
The Seniors consists of Camden (the alpha), Regent, and Gatwick. I sadly lost their brother Paddington not long after they turned 1. These giant rats with varying blue markings are now fast approaching 2.5 years old. I originally took in their mother, and her entire litter of 12, when the pups were 4 weeks old and still nursing. I was the second foster home the group had after being rescued from a barn. Being the foster failure that I am, I ultimately kept four of the boys for myself.
Time To Rat Chat
I gathered everyone to the chaise section of our couch for a little chat. The chaise is the only part of the couch that the rats are allowed on. I keep it protected from them with a mattress cover and blankets.
Me: Hi guys! I know it is nap time for some of you, but I appreciate you taking part in this round table, so-to-speak. And I apologize to The Seniors for literally dragging you from your igloo.
Gatwick: It didn’t seem like we had the option to say, “No.”
Me: That’s probably true.
Brinley: We were waiting at the [cage] door!
Me: I noticed. You all anxiously had your noses pressed through the bars. And Kelton almost pounced on me when I opened the door.
Kelton (running off): Because I couldn’t wait to race across the couch!
Me: You know very well that you’re not allowed to run… Wait! Get back over here right now!
Trying To Stay On Topic
Regent (yawning as he watches me sit back down with Kelton): Will this take long? I was in the middle of a dream where I was lying in a bed of Cheerios.
Me: We’ll keep this quick so you can get back to the Cheerios. Camden, Regent, and Gatwick, you three have experienced so much in your 2+ years. You were literally born in a barn, went through three moves, lost a brother (RIP Paddington), lost cagemates, and were cover models for It’s a Rat’s World magazine before finally retiring. I feel like you must have so much rattie wisdom to pass on to Moffett, Brinley, and Kelton.
Camden: Did I hear something about Cheerios? I’m starving!
Me: If you can stay focused for a few minutes, I will get some for all of you.
Gatwick (nervously peeking out from a blanket): I forgot about the barn! Now all I can think about are those huge beasts with long shaggy tails!
Me: Do you mean horses?
Regent: He doesn’t know what he’s talking about, we hadn’t even opened our eyes yet.
Gatwick: But I remember Momma’s stories about them!
Me: Well, this might explain your anxiety Gatwick. But let’s move on from the barn, shall we? Is there anything specific you Seniors think The Young Boys should know?
Beware Of …
Camden: Yes! If you see Mom getting the box of torture out…
Me (interrupting): Do you mean the bin of props?
Camden: Potayto, potahto. Anyway, when Mom starts putting holiday stuff on the small table or pointing her phone at you, run! Because she’s getting ready for a photo shoot!
Regent: And she might make you wear a hat!
Kelton: I don’t know what a hat is, but she’s already making us do photo shoots.
Brinley and Moffett nod their heads in unison.
Me (rolling my eyes): You’re all being very dramatic right now.
Gatwick (shouting from under a blanket): Stay away from horses! They are giant monsters on stilts!
Me (shaking head): Thanks for the tangent of warnings, but let’s try a different approach. Seniors, what did you enjoy most when you were younger?
Camden & Regent (in unison): Mmmm… treats.
Me: Well, you clearly still love treats, so is there something specific you’ve learned concerning them?
Gatwick (peeking out): Yes! No matter how good the treats smell, don’t be the first to grab one.
Me (surprised): Really?
Gatwick: Yeah, because one of your stupid, bigger brothers will just snatch it out of your mouth!
Camden (snickering): Mmmm…stolen treats.
Gatwick (glaring at Camden): But if you wait, your brothers start fighting over their treats, then you go hide with all the remaining treats.
Regent (perks head up): What’s this now? Mr. Fraidy Pants here is getting extra treats?
Me (shifting in my seat): OK, moving on with a new question. Besides food, obviously, what is one your greatest joys as a senior?
Exploring The Joys Of Naps
Camden: Getting out of the cage!
Me: I’m surprised. You mostly just look for a place to nap when you’re out.
Camden (sidling up to me): Speaking of naps.
I lay my hand on Camden’s back and start massaging his shoulders.
Moffett: You want out just to take a nap? That’s so boring!
Kelton: Yeah, I feel too jiggly for that!
Me (confused): Jiggly?
Kelton (eyeing the no-rat zone): My legs want to bounce and run, and I need to see what’s happening over there!
Predicting his next move, I grab Kelton just as he’s about to dart off.
Me: Learn some self-control man!
Regent: We don’t nap all day. We move around from the hammock, to the igloo, to the food dish, to the hut in the play area.
Brinley: That’s still napping!
Gatwick (muffled): It’s a change of scenery though.
Moffett: What scenery? You’re hiding under a blanket.
Me: Boys, be nice. I’d like to point out that you younger three often take naps on the chaise at night while I’m watching TV. Granted that’s after I’ve spent over an hour trying to keep you from the no-rat zone.
Kelton: Those are just power naps so that we have energy to get away, er, I mean explore.
Me (with one eyebrow cocked): I see. I remember the seniors being just as, uh, “jiggly” as you three are. And I bet you 10 treats that you all become major nappers someday, too.
Brinley (popcorning): Never!
How To Score Back Rubs
Me: Is there anything important you have learned about naps that the Young Boys should know?
Camden: If you lay next to mom, she’ll give you a back rub!
Camden: But sometimes she gets distracted and a bit sloppy about it. So, you’ll need to start fidgeting pretend you’re going to get up and leave. That usually brings her back to the job.
Me (lightly flicking Camden’s rump): Well, aren’t you a master manipulator.
Regent (eyeing both of us, slowly creeps over and slinks in between my hand and Camden): And sometimes you have to push your brothers out of the way for your own back rub.
Me (now trying to pet two rats at once): It seems age has not diminished any of your jealousy Regent.
Regent (yawning): I’m not jealous, I’m assertive.
Me: Sure if that’s how you want to play it. Well, as usual, this conversation is veering off path. Is there any last piece of advice that each of you Seniors want to share with the Young Boys?
Last Words Of Advice
Gatwick: Trust no one! Even when you’ve begged Mom to come out, it’s best if you frantically run away the moment she opens the door.
Me (rolling my eyes): Right, because I’m so untrustworthy.
Camden: Always be the first to the food dish, and shove your brothers out of the way if necessary.
Regent (sheepishly smiling): Always be adorable, it will give you power over Mom.
Moffett: Oh, we’ve figured that out already! Our favorite trick is to power nap on our backs with our feet up in the air. She says it’s the cutest thing ever!
Brinley: We even taught Kelton how to do it!
Kelton flips over to demonstrate.
Me (shaking my head in laughter): Well, this has been very enlightening, but now it’s time for The Young Boys to go to the play area so The Seniors can nap.
All the rats (yelling in unison): Don’t forget the Cheerios!
Putting It All Together
That wraps up another insightful conversation with my boys. What I’ve learned is that The Seniors have embraced the joys of laziness, The Young Boys, like human teenagers, think they will be young forever, and both groups know just how to manipulate me. At least I have lots of belly rubs to look forward to. I will gladly give all the back rubs I can for as long The Seniors are still with me.